Ten years ago when the kids were just out of pushchairs we were walking in the Yorkshire Moors.
Towards the summit of a hill an elderly man strode past us. He was full of ebullience but empty on engagement.
That man was Jimmy Saville. I remember thinking at the time there was something disturbing about his eccentric behaviour. But I had no idea what Pandora’s Box would later reveal.
And that’s how I fear the behaviour of Mr Joseph Blatter. For years, I believe he has clung onto the FIFA presidency to guard himself from a plethora of corrupt and dirty decisions going public. But with this week’s revelations and resignation, his protective cloak of authority is slipping fast. Denial will be no shield against the focused power of truth-seeking global forces.
But regardless of why I think Septic Blatter has a toxic whiff (please note, I am not suggesting Mr Blatter is a sexual predator for one minute), how does this issue of ethics impact entrepreneurs?
Power and success has the capacity to corrupt, sometimes with ease. As humans, I’d argue we are all susceptible to self-importance and the creep of selfishness. Leaders need to put others first and build trust with all stakeholders so that others follow, and most importantly want to follow for all the right reasons.
Related to this issue is a recent research study (reported in April’s edition of ‘The Leadership Quarterly’) which examined how Swiss business students (how ironic) handled financial decisions when placed in positions of power. People assigned leader roles were given money to share with ‘followers’. The leaders decided unilaterally how the money would be distributed.
‘Psychology Today’ reports the study’s results in more detail but the conclusion is that power does corrupt, although not necessarily absolutely.
As entrepreneurs and business leaders we need to be constantly aware of the negative impact of our own selfish interests. No one is perfect, but unchecked dishonesty can spiral issues out of control and ultimately cause widespread damage. And since we live in a global, connected society, social media has the power to quickly bring us to account.
Key Learning Points: Trust is perhaps the most critical issue in business because it brings people together and sustains positive and growing relationships. Deceit and dishonesty quickly destroy trust. Entrepreneurs who behave ethically and consistently are far more likely to succeed in the long term and sleep easier at night.